I often talk (and write) about “pain points” and “staying in the pain” with clients. I stress that finding out where a clients’ frustrations may lie or what keeps them up at night is a good way to tailor your recommendations so that you address those core concerns, all the time.
But the flip side of this is true, also. You need to find out what will ultimately make a client happy so that they are satisfied with your partnership and your ability to make their vision a reality. So many times, concessions are made that dim the light of that vision. In this post, let’s look at a recent example and a client who really needed to stay focused on the “jewel box” her client desired.
Too Many Cooks, Not Enough Understanding
From the start, her client was quite clear what he wanted. It was to be a standard-setting, world-class destination that people the world over would aspire to use as their special event space. He needed it to be head-turning, media-attention grabbing, and beyond anything his customers could imagine. It would take some out-of-the-box thinking and creativity from my client and her team was up to the challenge.
Unfortunately for my client, she works in an industry where this type of creativity is only valued to a point and many times, projects get transferred to other firms that can complete them for less cost. It becomes a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, but no one knows what the final meal is supposed to taste like. That disconnection is where she and I focused our work together.
Jewel Box vs Just a Box
Because my client had been there from the beginning and understood her client’s true vision, I helped her present that knowledge as an added-value as she made her case for completing the whole project. She already saw that several concessions were being proposed that would lower the cost but divert the project from the result her client truly desired. “He wanted a jewel box, which we had proposed, but once it got into the hands of others, it was starting to look like it would be just a box.”
It was at this point, I recommended she say to her client, “We understood your vision for this project from the start and delivered designs that will get you there. We also understood that the investment would be significant. A firm promising you to deliver the project for far less is going to cut corners and I worry that you will not be satisfied with the result. You will get a box instead of a jewel box. Is that what you envisioned?”
Sometimes, Vision Means Looking Back
By tying her recommendations back to the original vision, she has created an atmosphere of partnership and understanding that no firm coming in at the last minute could replicate. It let her client know that she was listening and stayed true to what he ultimately wants from the project, not letting outside influences deter him from his goal.
Distractions, offers of “we can do it for less,” and proposed concessions that will make a project “good enough” can set a client down many different paths. Sometimes, it’s up to YOU to keep them on track based on their own desires and goals. When you realign them so that they stay focused on what will truly make them happy, they will get what they desired and will remember that it was you that preserved their vision. You’ve just elevated yourself to a trusted advisor position. Congratulations!